PROFILE OF HIS EXCELLENCY, SENATOR (DR) DAVID ALECHENU BONAVENTURE MARK GCON, Fnim, Fnipr, PRESIDENT OF THE 6TH AND 7TH SENATE, FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA
Senator (Dr) David Alechenu Bonaventure Mark’s place as a patriot, a true nationalist, a detribalized Nigerian, a social and political strategist of no mean standing is unarguably assured in the annals of Nigerian history.
Till date, Senator Mark holds the record of being the longest serving Senator in Nigeria having been elected an unprecedented six times by his Benue South Constituency of Benue state: 1999, 2003, 2007, 2011, 2015 and 2016.
He also possesses the enviable record of being the longest serving President of the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, having presided over the affairs of 6th and 7th Senate between 2007 and 2015 unblemished.
During this time, Senator Mark demonstrated considerable maturity in leading his colleagues and managing national issues. These earned him the soubriquet “Mr. Stability” for stabilizing the senate and the National Assembly that was hitherto a theatre of musical chairs.
Born on the 8th day of April 1948 in the serene and rural Otukpo Local Government Area of Benue State of Nigeria, Senator Mark started his elementary education at St. Francis Catholic Practicing School, Otukpo from 1956-1961. He then proceeded to the prestigious Nigerian Military School, Zaria from 1962-1966 and in the process set off for achieving his ambition for a military career. Young David Mark was later admitted into the Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA) Regular Course 3 and was commissioned Second Lieutenant in 1970.
Senator Mark surged for further professional training in the United Kingdom and India from 1971-1976 and bagged a Bachelors Degree in Telecommunications Engineering. Between 1978 and 1979, he was a student at the Command and Staff College, Jaji and between 1990 and 1991, he was at the National Defence University in Washington DC and later at Harvard University, Boston, USA from 1991-1992.
During a sterling military career, Senator Mark held various Staff, Command and Administrative appointments in the Nigerian Army. Some of these include but not limited to Directing Staff, Command and Staff College, Commander Corps of Signals and Faculty Director, National War College (NWC), now National Defence College (NDC), Abuja.
Senator David Mark also held extra-curricular appointments while in the military. He was appointed the Chairman of the very challenging Abandoned Properties Implementation Committee in 1976. In his capacity as Chairman, he effectively supervised the implementation of the Federal Government White Paper on the controversial abandoned properties in the old Eastern Region, now the South South (Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, Edo and Rivers) and South Eastern States (Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu and Imo).
As a Lieutenant Colonel, he was appointed Military Governor of Niger State in 1984. His tenure was characterized by the conceptualisation and implementation of brilliant ideas, bold actions and courageous initiatives which set Niger State on the path of development. Pertinent to note, is the introduction of the compulsory girl-child education, an initiative that earned Niger state the Number one position in the promotion of the girl-child education. Till date, Niger State has the highest number of Educated female among the 19 Northern States of Nigeria on the account of the education policy introduced by David Mark.
Appointed Minister of Communications in 1988, Senator Mark set the tone for the modernization of the communications sector in Nigeria by introducing mobile phones and digital telephone system in the country. He also reorganized NIPOST and started the city coding system. The Nigeria Telecommunications (NITEL) was removed from the Civil Service Structure and staff welfare package was improved significantly. He also built two ultra-modern digital earth stations in Lagos and Enugu from internally generated revenue without recourse to Federal Government allocation.
He retired from the Army as a Brigadier-General in 1993.
Senator David Alechenu Bonaventure Mark returned to Nigeria from self exile in 1998 to a thunderous home coming reception by his Idoma people of Benue State. They instantly declared him their political leader and he immediately responded to the yearnings and aspirations of his people. He joined the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and had the honour and privilege to contest election into the Senate. He was successfully elected as the Senator for Benue South Senatorial District in 1999. As evidence of the love his people have for him, he was re-elected in 2003, 2007, 2011, 2015 and 2016.
Prior to his emergence as President of the Senate in June 2007, Senator Mark served as chairman of the Senate Committees on:
• Banking and Currency
• Police Affairs
• Science and Technology
He also served as a Member of the following Senate Committees:
• Governmental Affairs
• Internal Affairs
• Police Affairs
• Security and Intelligence
• Cooperation and Integration in Africa
• Local and Foreign Debt
In June 2007, Senator David Mark emerged as the Senate President of the 6th Senate thereby making him the Twelfth President of the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. His tenure was characterised by the provision of solutions to complex national issues.
It will be recalled that his invocation of the “Doctrine of Necessity” ended the political logjam that had gripped the nation prior to the emergence of a new leadership of the country in 2010.
His tenure as President of the Senate also witnessed the only successful amendment of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria since the return of democracy to Nigeria in 1999, the first successful amendment of the Constitution of the country in a democratic dispensation in 50 years.
In the Senate, Senator David Mark is widely popular for his belief in true democracy and the rule of law. As President of the Senate, his dexterity in superintending the affairs of the Red Chamber ensured that he carried every one along; and left no one in doubt as to his belief that the success of the Assembly lay in team work. His firm belief in the maxim that majority would have its way and the minority must have its say. ensured that the collective yearnings and aspirations of all Nigerians as expressed by their representatives in the Upper Chamber were always given paramount considerations at all times.
As a great believer in education, Senator David Mark established a scholarship scheme under David Mark Scholarship Foundation, which awards scholarships ranging from primary to university level education. No fewer than 20,000 students, most of them indigents have benefitted from the annual scholarship scheme since its inception in 2005. In addition, Senator David Mark has renovated many schools in his constituency. He single-handedly built and donated a multi-million naira complex to the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN) Otukpo study centre in 2010. To his credit, all the nine local government areas in his Benue South Senatorial district enjoys medical services via the health Centres he facilitated. In addition, he runs an interest free revolving loan to small scale enterprises for his constituents.
Through wife, Mrs. Helen Mark, the Senator runs a Women Skill Acquisition Centre in Otukpo for women and girls free of charge. On completion of training in various skills such as Tailoring, Hair dressing, soap making and shoe making, the beneficiaries are provided with equipment and stipends as start – ups. No fewer than 10,000 have benefitted from the PROGRAMME since its inception in 2007.
As a sports enthusiast, he has in place an annual David Mark Secondary School football competition for the youths. As an avid lover and player of the game of golf, Senator Mark has an 18-hole Green Golf Course at Otukpo, open to the public free-of-charge. He also hosts an annual basket ball tournament tagged “Mark D’ Ball. These have not only given sports a boost in the State but have also given employment to several people.
A communicator and a promoter of effective and grassroots communication, Senator David Mark established the first private radio station in North Central Nigeria, Joy FM 96.5 in Otukpo; again offering employment to well over 50 Nigerians. This has promoted grassroots communication, education, enlightenment, peace and harmony among the people.
Senator David Mark is a man of undoubted national acclaim and an asset. Little wonder then, that he has been decorated and honoured with several awards across the country among which are:
• Grand Commander of the Order of the Niger (GCON)
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• Doctorate Degrees (Honoris Causa) from several UniversitiesØ across the country including but not limited to: National Open University of Nigeria, Rivers State University of Science and Technology, Enugu State University of Science and Technology, Benue State University, Nasarawa State University, University of Agriculture Makurdi, Federal University of Technology, Minna and Novena University, Delta State.
• Fellow, Auchi Polythenic, Auchi, Edo State
• Fellow, Nigerian Institute of Management (Fnim)
• Fellow, Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (Fnipr)
• Public Officer of the Year, 2011 Award by African Newspapers of Nigeria Plc (publishers of Nigerian Tribune Newspapers)
• Man of the year award 2015 by Daily Independent Newspapers Limited.
• Fellow of Legislation and Law by the by the Nigeria Institute of Legislative Studies (NILS), among others.
. Senator of the decade award by the NIGERIAN Senate Press Corps
. Leadership award by the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Bayelsa state chapter among others.
Undoubtedly a pragmatist, an outstanding Senator, Africa’s finest parliamentarian, a man fiercely devoted to the social, economic and political growth and development of Nigeria, a shrewd and excellent politician and one of the best managers of our democracy. Senator Mark is a man who has all his life displayed vigor without vanity, strength without insolence and courage without ferocity and all the virtues of a natural leader without its vices.